United Nations Electoral Observation Mission in Burundi (MENUB) started its operation in Burundi on 1 January 2015. The launch of the Mission was planned for Monday 12 January,however the Burundian government boycotted the launching.–By Yves Didier Irakoze
In accordance with Resolution 2137 (2014) of the Security Council, MENUB has been set up to follow the electoral process and to inform the General Secretary of UN of the progress. This code stipulates :«Takes noteof the Government of Burundi request for a United Nations electoral observer mission before, during and after 2015 elections in Burundi and requests the Secretary-General to establish such a mission to follow and report on the electoral process in Burundi immediately at the end of the BNUB’s mandate, and further requests this mission to report to the Secretary-General and the Secretary-General to the Security Council before, during and after the 2015 elections».
The MENUB is led by the Special Envoy of the General Secretary of the United Nationsand former President of Mauritius, M. CassanUteem, and his assistant chief M. Issaka Souna, the Former Ministry of Justice of Niger. Both were appointed by the General Secretary of the UN on 10 November 2014.
The Mission has been set up by the Government of Burundi in order to follow the electoral process. This process will comprise of five polls taking place between May and September 2015, as legislatives and communal, presidential, senatorial and elections of local (colline)advisers as well as advisers for the city districts
TheChief of the Missionofficially launchedMENUB activities on 12 January 2015. During his speech, he declared that dialogue is the best way to handle issues, as a dialogue may open the way to finding compromisesthat can lead to finding solutions to problems, also the more difficult issues. M.Uteem addedthat each electoral context is different, and drew attention to the experience that was made during the elections of 2005 and 2010. “The National Independent Electoral Commission (CENI) must take appropriate measures to ensure the best process”, he says.
Moreover, M.Uteem encouraged the CENI to reassure all the stakeholders by guaranteeing a large participationofall eligible voters in the elections. “We also encourage the government to follow thedialogue that was initiated in March 2013, and to assure all who desire to take part in the electoral process that there will be no repercussions,” says the Chief of MENUB.
He also mentioned that in a nation that calls itself a democracy, elections must be free, inclusive and transparent; and the large participation of the eligible population remains one of the criteria of the credibility of the elections.
He adds that the elections concern all Burundians. That is the reason whythe civil society must play its role fully: educating and sensitizing different segments of the population and observing and reporting with objectivity.
“Media also have the role to inform and broadcast news in an impartial way and avoid exacerbating the tensions that could occur between parties involved”, says M.Uteem
He concludes by stating: “You have all the ingredients for the success of the elections: the Road map adopted in a consensual way, a new electoral Code unanimously adopted by the National Assembly and a “Code of Good Conduct” for the elections signed by all concerned parties.
However, the government was absent during the launching of the mission; only opposition leaders, civil society and foreign diplomats attended the ceremony.
When asking Foreign Affairs Spokesman Daniel Kabuto why the government was not there he expressed that the government didn’t refuse the mission to be launched. He explained that they have expressed the wish this mission be launched after finalizing the mission status (the exact role of the mission), but we didn’t refuse them to launch the mission.